There hasn't been a 100 loss team in the National League since the Diamondbacks lost 111 games back in 2004. However, that may very well change this season as the San Francisco Giants are one team that could eclipse that mark. Owner Peter Magowan recently said that the Giants were "going in a different direction" in 2008 and that "the time has come to turn the page."
Really Peter? Because the only direction I see the team going.....is down.
While general manager Brian Sabean announced last season that the team wouldn't be bringing back Barry Bonds in 2008, there seemed to be a sense of relief in the Bay Area as most Giants fans were ready for change. However, that change never happened this offseason. With the Giants having one of the best starting rotations in their division, Sabean failed to bring in an impact bat that could complement it and help the team win ballgames.
That is, unless Sabean's idea of an impact bat is Aaron Rowand. Rowand signed with the Giants in a 5 year, 60 million dollar deal, in which he won't be worth the majority of the contract. Rowand has been a below average outfielder for much of his career, but set career highs last season in just about every offensive category except stolen bases. He is yet another example of a mediocre player receiving a big paycheck because of a solid performance in a contract year. Much of Rowand's success can be attributed to him playing in one of the National League's best hitters parks and hitting behind superstars Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. Playing in a spacious park like San Francisco will not help his cause. To top things off, Rowand was the only offseason addition the Giants made and it isn't saying much, considering he's replacing Barry Bonds in the lineup.
Many Giants fans would have been happy if the team had gone young in 2008, but that remained impossible with the many bad signings that Sabean had made the year before--Roberts, Durham, Aurilia--and the fact that the team has one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball. Aside from Aurilia, who has been a journeyman middle infielder for most of his career and is now 36, the Giants only position player that has come up through there system is first basemen Dan Ortmeier. Most of the Giants top prospects range anywhere from 17-20 years old and won't be able to contribute to the team for at least 3 to four seasons. The one prospect that is ready, Nat Schierholtz, is being blocked by the Giants barage of outfielders. Meanwhile, If the Giants are waiting until all of there old contracts are gone before they start to spend money on an impact bat, then they are wasting away the years that the team will have good starting pitching. The team shouldn't be paying Barry Zito 18 million dollars a season so they can rebuild. They shouldn't be wasting the years that they have Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum under control. They needed to bring in players that could help them win now and Brian Sabean failed to do so.
Going after Andruw Jones or Alex Rodriguez--in which the Giants had the money to do so--would have been the perfect fit for the team. Even if the team couldn't land A-rod, at least Jones would have provided the team with a legitimate home run threat in the middle of the order that is capable of driving players in. As currently assembled, the Giants don't have a single player in their lineup that projects to hit 20 or more home runs. They might very well be one of the worst offensive teams the league has seen in years.
Last season, with Barry Bonds in the lineup, the Giants averaged approximately 4.2 runs per game and with them declining offensively, it makes you wonder just how much that number will decrease this season. My guess is that it will be somewhere around 4 runs a game. If that's the case, the Giants are truly going to be in trouble. Even if Zito, Cain, and Lincecum have era's under 4, the chances of them winning games (with the bullpen not giving up a thing) are extremely thin. Heck, just last season Matt Cain had an era of 3.65, yet his record was 7-16. Nothing is going to change in 2008.
To put things into perspective, in an exhibition game against the Giants AAA affiliate two days ago (the Fresno Grizzlies), the Giants lost 4-3 with Barry Zito on the mound. They followed that up by losing a game in which their team faced the Seattle Mariners split squad 7-2 after Matt Cain gave up 6 runs in just 4 innings pitched. The Mariners were only playing four regulars and the Giants were shut down by rule-5 pick R.A. Dickey. In fact, Dickey only gave up one hit in the five innings he pitched.
The Giants finished last season with a record of just 71-91. So far this spring, the Giants are just 8-21and have failed to win the easiest of matchups. The loss of Barry Bonds, the injury problems with Noah Lowry and Kevin Frandsen, and the failure of management to bring in any type of impact player this season will have the Giants struggling to stay away from the 100 loss mark this season.